|Title||:||BGTF seeks steps to overcome COVID 2019 impacts|
Procuring entities (PEs) and tenderers have demanded of the government to extend the 2019-20 fiscal until 31 December this year as the COVID 2019 has largely hampered the implementation of development works across the country.
They made such a demand at a web meeting of the Convening Committee of the Bangladesh Government and Tenderers Forum on 23 April 2020. It was the fifth meeting of the committee. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the situation stemming from the onslaught of COVID 2019 and to seek remedies.
Tenderers in the meeting also demanded their inclusion in the stimulus package declared by the government as they are suffering from paying bank interest and operating expenditures amid the stagnancy. They fear price hike of construction materials due to extended project completion period for COVID 2019. The government on 4 April 2020 unveiled a stimulus package of TK72,750 crore to address the COVID 2019 impacts on the country’s economy.
The BGTF has been established under the auspices of the Digitizing Implementation Monitoring and Public Procurement Project (DIMAPPP). The CPTU has been implementing it since July 2017 with support from the World Bank.
The DG CPTU Mr. Mohammed Shoheler Rahman Chowdhury and the Director (Coordination) of CPTU Mr. Shish Haider Chowdhury joined the meeting with Convener of BGTF Mr. Sattar Md Abdus in the chair. The BGTF Secretary and Managing Director of Mozahar Enterprise, Kazi Mozaharul Haque, and other members who represent tenderers and PEs spoke in the meeting.
Both the PEs and tenderers noted that a large number of development works are feared to remain incomplete by June 2020. They fear the situation will hit ADP implementation rate in the current 2019-20 fiscal which was 94.23 per cent in the 2018-19 fiscal year. In Bangladesh, the fiscal year ends on 30 June and begins on 1 July.
The money allocated for the works which are scheduled to be complete by June 2020 will lapse and the plan to invite fresh tenders in March 2020 is set to remain unimplemented, said Mr. Sattar Md Abdus, Executive Engineer (Procurement) of LGED and also Convener of BGTF. He said the coming rainy season will also put many development works in jeopardy.
Both the PEs and tenderers demanded extension of the current fiscal year beyond June, especially this time due to COVID situation.
Tenderers pointed out that they were facing fund constraints because their bills were not cleared from the AG office. The DG, CPTU said that he would urgently talk to the Finance Ministry about non-payment of bills. The demand of tenderer for payment of bills can be considered, he added. He said the extension of June deadline of the current fiscal year is a high-level policy issue on which he cannot speak in this meeting. He said he would take up other procurement related problems with his authorities.
Tenderers said the current fixed expenditures for the stalled contract implementation are still on. Tenderers are also paying interest on the loans they availed from the banks at various stages for the purpose of the contract. They voiced concern over the trouble emanating from such ongoing expenditures despite the fact that all works on sites had been suspended.
Tenderers informed the meeting that in the present situation they cannot engage labourers in the sites due to COVID lockdown and associated risks. The situation has rendered about 20 lakh workers jobless in the construction sector.
They fear after the COVID crisis, possible price hike of constructions materials will put them in further difficulty.
The IT sector representative, Mr. Syed Almas Kabir, who is now the Syed Almas has a accountPresident of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) and member of BGTF, said local IT firms need some preferences in public procurement. He said BASIS has been working with CPTU in getting a befitting Standard Tender Document (STD) for procuring IT software. BCCP, a consulting firm engaged by CPTU facilitated hosting of the BGTF meeting online.